The immune gland thymus is strongest and largest in a child. By puberty it begins to atrophy. Even before this natural degeneration, most of humanity is beset with common major immune disorders include auto-immune diseases where theimmune system in a state of hyper vigilance attacks the body it is meant to protect; immune deficiency where the system fails to protect the body under emergency.
Interestingly, recent research has found the immune gland may be revived and stimulated back to health. Yoga has been doing it for eons through its asanas(poses) and pranayama (breathing practices). Though the precise mechanism may be difficult to explain, most poses or practices that stimulate the chest region have found to help control disorders related to this highly sensitive system in our body. It could be that these poses stimulate the acupressure points that stimulate the gland. Research on meditation was the first to prove that focusing practices can boost the production of immune cells within the body.
The chest opening poses like the dhanurasana (bow),bhugangasana (cobra), salabhasana (locust), sarpasana (snake pose) are some simple yogic immunity boosters. Pranayama practices like kapalabhati (skull-cleanser), bhastrika (bellows breathing) are also powerful immunity boosters. Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, shows you five yogic practices to protect you from infections.
Dhanurasana (Bow pose, Advanced version): Lie on your stomach. Bend legs at the knees. Cross ankles. Reach hands behind to grasp either of the crossed ankles, as shown. Inhale, lifting chest and thighs off the ground. Look up, the intensify the stretch. Hold for a few seconds initially, with normal breathing. After regular practice over weeks, you may extend the duration in the final pose. Or, you may hold for a shorter duration, three times.
Benefits: Boost immunity, and overall health since it is also a complete body workout. Tones hands and legs. Boosts stamina.
Marjariasana (Cat stretch, advanced): Kneel on your fours, as shown. Inhale to lift the left leg up, as shown, with it bent at the knee. Reach right hand to hold the left ankle (or foot or toes, as shown). Lift the leg higher, drawing the ankle away. Lift the head up, to look at the ceiling. Hold for as long as is comfortable, breathing normally throughout. Release leg. Repeat for the other side.
Points to note: This calls for ability to balance. So attempt it only after trying other advanced cat stretches. Do not lift the head until balance has been achieved.
Benefits: Boosts immunity, stamina, limbs’ tone.